how amateur rugby is starting to fight the scourge of concussions

In France, all sports combined, at least 100,000 concussions are diagnosed each year. Amateur rugby is particularly affected by this scourge, still too often underestimated by athletes and professionals.

More and more players dare to break the taboo to warn of concussions that affect many sports, especially rugby. A real health plague that affects both professional and amateur athletes.

In the amateur environment, the means are not enough to detect these concussions. The wounded very often find themselves isolated in front of city doctors who are not prepared to recognize the symptoms from which they suffer. This is what happened to 19-year-old Theo, the victim of a head-on impact on a tackle. The beginning, for him, of a long Via Crucis: “A few months after the injury I started having trouble sleeping, I had dizziness, I lost my memory. It lasted a good year like this, without being able to do anything anymore”says the young man, who, faced with the doctors’ incomprehension and ridicule, ends up falling into depression.

“I was sent right, left, until the day a doctor told me to go into his room, which I did. He concluded that I had nothing, like I was a liar when I just wanted to be able to run, come back on the pitch playing rugby again”He explains.

“You break your collarbone: show the radio, it shows, you’re taken seriously. Well, it’s invisible and you pass for a liar”.

Théo, amateur rugby player


Today, eight years after his injury, Theo continues to wander from doctor to doctor to nurse his pain, as well as his unexplained loss of balance. Sometimes he is forced, while driving, to stop on the side of the road to collect his thoughts. He was never able to play rugby again.

Isolation, lack of support…

Jean-Baptiste, 34, suffered from “second impact syndrome”, i.e. a first concussion: “Nobody saw anything, I played my game normally”. Then, with a second shock a few weeks later: “There, towards the end of the match, I suffered a headbutt, I felt a sharp pain in my jaw, I finished the match without remembering how, I had to continue with another match but I was vomiting.”

Jean-Baptiste ends up in hospital, his vital prognosis even busy for a while. Today, six months later, after a long rehabilitation, he is still on sick leave, a bit lost in everyday life and has no driving licence.

At least 100,000 cases a year

It is these numerous testimonies that prompted the lawyer Antoine Semeria to create the Alerte Commotions association, which will hold its first general assembly on June 16th. Its goal: to provide victims with non-legal assistance. “Create a discussion group so that people who are victims of concussions, from different sports, can meet, tell their story, their problems without taboos, without fear of the gaze of others”says the lawyer.

Also recommend. “The testimonies I receive are victims of concussions who don’t have a medical follow-up, who don’t know where to go. It’s worrying. We need to go faster, do awareness actions”, he adds. The number of concussions, all sports combined in France, is estimated at at least 100,000 cases per year, “a constantly increasing and certainly underestimated figure for a real public health problem”says eminent neurologist Jean-François Chermann.

“We can no longer leave the victims alone. They must be able to share their daily life. We must carry out prevention and awareness actions”.

Antoine Semeria, lawyer and founder of the Alerte Commotions association


In rugby, one of the first sports to become aware of the problem, initiatives are regularly launched. This week, once again, the international federation announces new experiments in several countries of the world to lower the height of tackles in amateur rugby: a ban on tackles above the breastbone. But the feedback won’t happen until early 2025.

So in the meantime, what if we start by simply applying the rules of the game? This is what Philippe Chauvin asks himself in his book Dying is part of the game, published by Editions du Rocher. One of his sons, Nicolas, died in 2018, aged 18, following an illegal double tackle during a match with hopefuls Stade Français against Bordeaux on 2And Torn cervical vertebra.

“The rules we have are certainly imperfect but sufficient to protect players if applied. And when there is a fault, a dangerous act, the sanctions must be truly dissuasiveasks Philippe Chauvin. Three weeks of suspension when you almost killed someone is just ridiculous. If you go to 20 weeks, it affects the whole economic chain and, there, it becomes much more painful.” he continues.

“Do nothing dangerous or rash”

And Philippe Chauvin is fighting today for a very simple but essential sentence, to be copied by all members on their licenses. This sentence is engraved in the rules of the game, it is rule 9, paragraph 11: players must not do anything that is dangerous or imprudent to others.

“I think copying it, and I’m talking about all the components – players, managers, coaches – would bring back to everyone’s mind that rugby is not a sport of destruction, which we still hear in certain speeches by coaches, presidents”recommend.

“By enforcing this rule, we would reassure families, we would have more members and we would find a sport of avoidance, a smart sport”, adds this rugby lover. A request made several times to the various French authorities, which has remained a dead letter for the moment.

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